Guest Post: A Last Opportunity to Travel to a First Opportunity—to See the 2020 Desert Spring Under Baby-blue Sky
Blog by Barbara Swanson. All photos Barbara Swanson. Click on any photo in the blog for a full-size image and caption. Return by closing the light box “X” upper right corner of the image frame.
Many of the ephemeral wildflowers were gone from the Borrego Springs area but the cacti and shrubs were starting to bloom. The rains came early but the long pause before the spring rains resulted in a mediocre wildflower season. It was a warm enough day that a small wave of Painted Lady butterflies passed through and the birds were quite active.
green ray precisely at the just-set upper limb of the sun, the effect being due to the refraction of the sunlight through the band of heated air just above the rock surface.
My first stop was the Anza-Borrego State Park Visitor Center. There were only a few cars there when I arrived and I left once more people showed up. The area right around the visitor center is landscaped with many of the iconic desert plants found in the park so it is a great overview of the local plant community. As there is a small pond for desert pup-fish, wildlife is attracted to the area. The visitor center was closed due to COVID-19.
RV’s that I only drove part way in to eat my picnic lunch. I saw and heard little wildlife until the last area that I explored, where I suddenly heard a whole symphony of sound. The birds were very shy so I barely saw them and have no idea how many white-crowned sparrows and Brewer’s sparrows were in the mixed flock, but I just stood and listened for about 15 minutes as the birds sang what I fancifully imagined to be a very complex fugue. It was a glorious experience.
TRAVEL INFORMATION AND RECOMMENDATIONS: If you decide to go to Anza-Borrego or any other desert, it is important to be prepared. There are only a few services in Borrego Springs and scattered cell reception within the park. Hotels are limited in Borrego Springs and they get booked up in winter and especially March. Check the weather forecast, as wind is common in the afternoon and can be unpleasant for being outdoors, and flash floods are dangerous. Be sure to check the weather forecast for your route; sometimes it is warm and sunny in the desert but snow or heavy rain in the nearby mountains. I bring several gallons of water, plenty of food and snacks and layers of clothing as the temperature can change quickly especially around dawn and dusk. Sturdy closed-toed shoes are advised since there are cacti in most areas. I also know the off-pavement capability of my car and it is good to bring a shovel and carpet remnants to put under your tires if you should get stuck in the sand. I’ve seen vehicles get stuck in the shoulder of paved roads around town, especially after heavy rains, so be careful.
Click on any image in the gallery below for full size images in a manual slide show format. All photos this post and gallery by Barbara Swanson.
A map below shows a typical arrival destination in Glorietta Canyon. Popup is activated by default; click X in popup pane to close. Access is from the north via Borrego Springs Road.
Popular access to Glorietta Canyon is via a north-south running dirt road from Borrego Springs Road, located about 1/4 mile west of the access road to the huge metal bird sculpture north of Borrego Springs Road. The north-south road is used to access some of the many iron sculptures in the area. (BTW, the “Photos” section of Google Earth contains some great images of these sculptures, but they’re not always georeferenced properly by the contributors.)
The driving distance from Borrego Springs Road to the mouth of Glorietta Canyon is 2.5 miles. Questions about the use of this road may be obtained from the Anza-Borrego Foundation 760 767‑0446; the foundations has a large presence in Borrego Valley, including the fascinating Desert Nature Center (with a nice selection of books) at 652 Palm Canyon Drive in the heart of town. Their website to check out is https://www.abdnha.org/.